Advice on Posture, Workstation Setup, and Exercise

As biocurators we are all spending considerable time at our workstations. Hopefully everyone has had their workstation set up reviewed and you are all aware of the importance of your sitting posture, ergonomic aids and breaks. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) and eye strain are the main health issues that may affect biocurators. Below are a few links to helpful resources that you may find useful. 

We would also welcome any additional information that we can add to this site. 

The best advice anyone can be given with regard to RSI is that “prevention is better than cure”. However, if you think you are developing this condition get professional advice to prevent it from getting any worse.

You are entitled to have an ergonomic working environment

In the UK employers are required by law (the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992) to provide appropriate workstations and also eye tests and, in some cases, glasses for people working for extended periods of time on computers. In addition, regular breaks are expected. 

Note that in the UK this law also applies to those working at home. However, similar laws might not exist in other countries.

How to set up your workstation

  • Posturite website with lots of advice
  • Simple poster showing ergonomic workstation 

Use this checklist to review your workstation set up.

Remember to have regular breaks

The UK government advises that short, frequent breaks are more satisfactory than occasional longer breaks: for example a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes continuous screen and/or keyboard work is likely to be better than a 15-20 minute break every 2 hours. 

Use break reminder software. You can configure these programs to your own requirements. In addition to reminding you to take a break, the workrave program suggests some exercises to do. 

Reduce your Mouse Usage with Keyboard Shortcuts

There are so many keyboard shortcuts that few users will know them all. You might, therefore, find the following links useful:

Look after your eyes

Try to exercise your eyes using the 20-20-20 rule. More advice on how to avoid eye strain is provided by The Guardian and many other websites. Note that your employer may be expected to cover the cost of eye tests and glasses for computer work.

Look after your health

Many studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. 

Consider how you can change your behaviour so that you move around more, for example:

  • Vary your work tasks throughout the day so that you increase the number of times you alternate between sitting and standing.  
  • Have a regular ‘standing’ meetings
  • Use a height adjustable desk you can work either standing or sitting
  • Use iMails — talk to colleagues rather than emailing
  • Use a bathroom that is further away
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift
  • Eat lunch away from your desk
  • Try a 10-min living room workout
  • Exercise your hands and wrists
  • Stretch your neck, shoulders and back